According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the percentage of public schools that reported they have made wearing school uniforms in 2003-2004 and 2011-2012 was from 13 to 19%, most of which were public schools with high poverty levels.
The school-sanctioned uniform policy is becoming popular among districts and schools in the hopes of school administrators that students will have better grades, increased self-esteem and better behavior. As reviewed by the author of the book The School Uniform Movement and What It Tells Us About American Education, David Brunsma, there have been negative perceptions about wearing school uniforms in relation to school safety and performance of students. Conversely, parents were not also in favor of uniform policies before but now, they are beginning to appreciate it. To have a better understanding on how school uniform policies affect the educational system and the students as well, let us take a look at the benefits and setbacks of this policy.
List of Advantages of School Uniforms
1. Wearing school uniforms levels the playing field among students.
Teenagers belong in the age group where peer pressure exists and students are more conscious of how they look, from the hair to their shoes. Although this is a normal thing, not all students belong in high-earning income families and can afford to buy expensive clothes and shoes. A uniform policy can address this issue. Students, whether rich or poor will be wearing the same clothes which makes it less costly for those who cannot afford to buy pricey clothes.
2. School uniforms can enhance the self-esteem of students.
This benefit, again, is for students who are not well-off or who belong in families in poverty. Proponents of this policy say that wearing uniforms gives students is a significant reminder of equality in the school, that is, students will be in an environment where social class is less emphasized. Consequently, it will be easier for students to feel more self-confident and appreciate themselves, knowing that they can go to school without having to worry they will be bullied because of the clothes they wear.
3. They the work of school administrators and educators.
Most educators say that a school uniform policy is a blessing for them. This is because they don’t have to reprimand or punish students from wearing skirts that are too short or shorts. Without a school policy on wearing uniforms, some students will be attending classes dressed in clothes that are inappropriate or too revealing.
4. School uniforms are favorable for parents.
Although at first, this policy was not popular among parents, over the years, wearing uniform in schools is appreciated by parents. Some have expressed that it lessens the arguments in the family since they do not have to discuss with their children about the clothes the latter wear in school. Moreover, these uniforms have lessened the cost of buying clothes for their children. With only a few sets which they can easily wash, there is no need to buy their kids more clothes to wear in school.
5. Wearing them reduces stress among students.
One of the challenges most people go through on a daily basis is deciding on what to wear. Students also face this dilemma of choosing their clothes going to school. Some struggle to look different each day while others worry on being bullied or judged on what kind of clothes they have. A uniform policy eliminates this concern.
List of Disadvantages of School Uniforms
1. Safety can be put in line.
Those who are not in favor of school uniform policies argue that if this is implemented, it will be easier for criminals to enter the school premises unnoticed. With the number of shooting incidents, some parents and school administrators are concerned. If everyone will be in the same clothes, same color and make, it will not be that easy to distinguish a student from another especially if both have the same body build and hair. Additionally, by being in uniform, anyone can simply pretend to be a student in a certain school especially if security is not as tight.
2. Uniform policies prevent self-expression.
Critics of wearing school uniforms claim that imposing what clothes to wear on people curtails the freedom of boys and girls to be who they are and express themselves. There are people who have fashion statements and this does not exempt students. By dictating on them when it comes to the clothes they wear, they can be resentful about it.
3. Students morale is affected.
Some students are not in favor of having to wear uniform to school. In fact, according to a recent poll, 92% of high school students have expressed their opposition to this policy. If they will be forced or obligated to wear school uniforms that they are not comfortable with, their performance in school will be affected and this will be evident in their behavior as well.
4. School uniforms can have a negative effect on students.
Opponents of school uniform policies say that it is inevitable for students to compare how they look with other students in school. This can lead to lower self-esteem and self confidence on students who do not feel they look good in uniforms. Since there are different body types, it is possible that the cut and make of certain uniforms will not fit the body type of some students. This can be an inconvenience to students who prefer to wear clothes appropriate for their build and will fit the contour of their bodies.
5. Uniform designs can have issues on culture.
In schools with multi-cultural diversities, having uniforms can leave other cultures behind especially if the design only represents one culture or few cultures. Students who belong in ethnic groups might not feel comfortable in wearing uniforms with specific designs. As for the case of those who cannot afford to buy enough number of sets of uniforms, having to wash regularly can be extra work and buying more sets is an added expense.
School uniform policies will continue to be a debatable issue because there will be opponents and proponents of school uniforms. Perhaps, the best way to address this issue is to have a talk among school administrators, parents and students before implementing school-sanctioned policies.
Crystal Lombardo has been a staff writer for Future of Working for five years. She is a proud veteran and mother. If you have any questions about the content of this blog post, then please send our editor-in-chief a message here.